It took me a while to figure out how using toy cameras would fit into my photography practice, and eventually I created two bodies of work that combined narrative with landscape. One is "That summer at the lake", which I discussed in a recent post. The other is "My beloved rises from her sleep" in which the images stood as metaphors for lines from the poem of Mahmoud Darwish. I also have in my flat files a couple of nascent series of toy camera images from the local oceanic coast, and I'm in the (slow) process of turning some Holga images I took last fall in San Francisco into a zine.
I remember her reflection in the early days,
when lightning crowned her forehead
from the series "My beloved rises from her sleep"
But recently I've been thinking about trade-offs. While I feel I used the toy cameras effectively in creating these narrative streams, I've also come to realize that this aesthetic adds another layer between me and my experience of that moment as it also does for the viewer. While the toy camera creates a sense of a dream-like or memory state it also distances the viewer from the actual "in the moment" experience. I remember a while ago musing in an e-mail conversation with a friend about this conundrum and writing to her that I wanted to explore the differences in narrative landscape images created by the toy camera and a high end optical lens. This idea has been percolating in the background for some time, and while that's been happening I've found myself drawn to work by other photographers that at first view might seem to be images of the mundane, but on further reflection is better defined as acute observation of what is right in front of us all the time, a documenting of actually living each visual moment.
It's been a while since I've walked the forest with a camera; I've been working on solidifying my wet plate collodion technique in the summer months while the UV light is strong and I can work outside easily. But this weekend I felt the urge to get out with a film camera and found myself picking up my Mamiya 6. I haven't had the film developed yet, but I remembered that while I was making images with the Holga for the "My beloved rises from her sleep" series, I sometimes carried the Mamiya 6 with me as well. So here are some images taken during the same time period as the image above. While I was revisiting these images I found myself connecting back to the moment when I made each: